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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Silva, Austin 14s Division's Top Seeds at Junior Orange Bowl: Little Mo International Underway

©Colette Lewis 2009--
Coral Gables, FL--

I tried to catch the final round of qualifying at the Junior Orange Bowl boys 12s this afternoon, but I was thwarted by a most unusual rain storm. Being from Michigan, I'm quite familiar with all the various types of snow storms, but I can't say I've ever seen a rain event quite like this one. For more than a half and hour, it rained steadily, with the sun shining all the while.

The distance between Tropical Park and the University of Miami Tennis Center is only about 5 miles, and it was raining for four of them, but suspecting that if one of the four Junior Orange Bowl locations would have dodged the rain, it would be UM, I headed there. Sure enough, the Hurricanes' courts were dry, and I watched several of the final qualifying matches there, including the first set of 12s Junior Orange Bowl champion Hyeon Chung's match. But without scoring devices, it was just too difficult to track the score, especially if you are unfamiliar with most of the players, as was the case for me.

The No. 1 seeds in the 14s are Fredrico Silva of Portugal and Brooke Austin of the U.S. Silva played the Eddie Herr, losing in three sets to finalist Thai Kwiatkowski of the U.S. in the round of 16. Austin did not play the Eddie Herr. She played, and won, a National Open in the 16s division Thanksgiving weekend in Ann Arbor. The No. 2 seeds are Carolina Costamagna of Argentina in the girls, and Artem Oganesyan of Russia in the boys. Oganesyan lost in the Eddie Herr round of 32 to China's Yifan Dang, a 17 seed this tournament. Costamagna did not play in Bradenton. A player to watch for in the girls 14s is Estelle Cascino of France, the 13-year-old who qualified at the Dunlop Orange Bowl in the 16s and made it all the way to the quarterfinals.

Like the Eddie Herr, there are 16 No. 1 seeds in the 12s division, but for the first time since I've been covering the Junior Orange Bowl, tournament officials are not restricting a country to one seed and one seed only. This has allowed both Tommy Paul and Stefan Kozlov of the U.S. to be seeded, and Eddie Herr champion Mariya Shishkina and Kenadi Hance, the USTA 12s national champion this year, to also receive No. 1 seeds for the U.S.

But with only 16 seeds in a 128-draw (all four draws are 128, but the 14s have 32 seeds, including 16 that are alphabetically seeded as 17), there are going to be a lot of dangerous floaters. Eddie Herr girls 12s finalist Tornado Ali Black isn't seeded, nor are Eddie Herr semifinalists Maria Patrascu of Canada and Anastasia Nefedova of the U.S. Eddie Herr semifinalist Duck Hee Lee of Korea was seeded in the boys, along with compatriot and Eddie Herr finalist Seongchan Hong (they are in the same quarter of the draw), but Lee has a tough first round against USTA 12s national champion Henrik Wiersholm. Spencer Furman, the runner-up to Wiersholm in Little Rock, also isn't seeded. He faces Sinan Orhon of Turkey, a number one seed, in the first round. Eddie Herr semifinalist Mark Chepurnoy of Russia is also a dangerous unseeded player in the 12s.

The weather forecast is marginal for Thursday, and downright stormy for Friday, so match times, as posted on the draws, may be optimistic. Check my twitter feed for more up-to-date information in the next couple of days.

For complete draws, see the TennisLink site.

The Little Mo International, for 8, 9, 10 and 11 age divisions, is underway this week at The Club Med Sandpiper in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Marcia Frost is onsite for coverage at collegeandjuniortennis.com and Ken Thomas of radiotennis.com will be there webcasting live on Friday and Saturday.